Police were alerted to the scam when a potential victim went to the police station and reported it Monday.
The person had found an ad on Craigslist for a rental home, which is actually listed for sale, in the borough but found it suspicious.
Someone claiming to be the homeowner put up the ad that says tenants are needed to care for the home, Chief Justin Seibel said in a news release.
The ad requests those interested in renting the home to send $1,300 for the first month’s rent and security deposit via Western Union to an address in Nigeria, he said.
The ad urged potential renters to drive by the home to look at the neighborhood. The person who put up the ad said he or she is unable to show the inside of the home because of scheduling conflicts.
The fraudulent ad includes information about the home and pictures of its interior, which are believed to have been taken from a legitimate real estate website, Seibel said.
“(Scammers) suggest that the potential renter ignore “For Sale” signs on the outside of the house and that they will be coming down because they are unhappy with their Realtor,” Seibel said in the release.
While police are not aware of anyone sending money to the scammer, they are asking citizens to be aware that this is a common scheme and ask that they take extra precautions to avoid becoming victims.
Tips: Police offered the following tips to avoid becoming a victim of a scam:
* If you are looking for a home to rent, be sure to contact the landlord by speaking to them on the phone; never only correspond through email.
* Don’t agree to rent a property without first getting to see the property with the landlord. Chances are if they cannot show you the property, they are not the lawful owner.
* Never send money via Western Union or Pay Pal to someone from outside the state and country.
* Never give out personal information, such as your name, address, telephone number, Social Security number, account information or credit card information, to someone over the phone or over the Internet.
* If something seems too good to be true, it may be. Take extra steps and look into an advertisement to ensure you will not become a victim.
- Reach Greg Gross at 505-5434, email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/greggrss.
©2012 The York Dispatch (York, Pa.)
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